Since the dawn of theater, many cultures from around the world elected to represent actors as other persons of beings, enabling performances that were much more striking and effective. Theater traditions in both West and the Asia adopted masks as one of the most important tools that could be used on stage, often creating plays that were fully acted by masked actors. Most notable example of this approach was born in ancient Greece, specifically the state-city of Athens where culture, poetry, and art were valued as an important foundation of daily lives. Stage drama received special care, enabling quick popularization of three main types of plays— tragedy, comedy, and satyr play comedic satire.
History of Greek Masks
Information on Asian Masks | Synonym
Masks have been worn in nearly all cultures, for various reasons, since the Stone Age. Masks have been worn as a form of disguise, by an actor in a performance, as part of a religious ceremony, as part of membership in a secret society, as punishment for a criminal or in celebration of a holiday. Egyptians used masks as part of their burial ceremony. The masks that were placed upon the face of the deceased often contained spells intended to protect the spirit on its journey into the afterlife. The masks were usually painted with gold and contained precious stones.
Theater Masks - Different Types of Theatrical Masks
Many Asian countries have distinct masks of their own, yet similarities in culture also reflect influences from neighboring areas. Asian masks are typically used for spiritual, cultural and decorative purposes. Many countries wear masks for tribal rites, religious celebrations and theatrical performances. Masks can depict human faces, real or mythical animals or represent deities. In Japan, there are Noh masks worn by skilled actors to induce a variety of perceived expressions.
Indian or Native American masks were made for ceremonies, decoration, war rituals, shaman rituals, rituals initiating young man into the tribe, in healing rituals, in entertainment, given as gifts and spiritual rituals. Masks could be made for a ceremony where one chief of one tribe gives gifts to a chief from another tribe. Native Americans believed that the person wearing a mask was taken over by the spirit that mask represents.